WALLA WALLA -- A new Guinness world record food challenge was set Sunday while another remained unchanged, the later failure most likely due to the fact that the food being consumed was not a soft, succulent Walla Walla Sweet Onion.
Food Network Canada star Bob Blumer, host of "Glutton for Punishment," successfully peeled 50 pounds of Walla Walla Sweet Onions in record time at the Sweet Onion Festival in front of a crowd of about 100 cheering allium fans.
Blumer attributed his success to his technique and an extremely sharp knife. As for the Walla Walla Sweet Onions, the TV host said they both helped and hindered in his successful attempt to break the world record.
"It's a trade off. The larger onions, there is a lot more real estate to them, more circumference and the flesh is softer," Blumer said, which means fewer onions to peel. But there is also more to cut, more risk of getting cut because of their size and more chance that the outer layer will break while peeling, which slows down the critical single peeling motion of the outer skin.
The technique Blumer used was to chop off top and root, then make a vertical slice along the side, and finally running his fingers under the skin in a single quick peeling motion. And true to their nature, of couple of the Walla Walla Sweet Onions did break in mid-peel. But that didn't keep Blumer from breaking the record on his first attempt, and again breaking his own record on his second attempt, finishing the day with his new record of two minutes 39 seconds.
The previous record had been set by diner employee Alan St. Jean, who in 1980 accomplished the feat in three minutes 18 seconds.
For Blumer, it was his fifth Guinness world record.
His four previous titles were for most pizzas made in an hour, 168 spread, sauced and topped; world's largest bowl of salsa, weighing in at 2,672 pounds; most pancakes made in an hour, Blumer couldn't even remember that total (it was 559); and most eggs hand cracked in an hour, 2,070.
That last record led to a case of "carpal cracking syndrome," Blumer joked, as he downed a beer to help get rid of the aftertaste of his one failed record breaking attempt on Sunday.
It was in 2007 that a 43-year-old Barbadian by the name of Samuel Grazette ate a 210-gram onion in 48 seconds. But it wasn't a Walla Walla Sweet Onion that Grazette was said to have swallowed in three bites.
In fact, Guiness world record rules forbid the use of a sweet salad onion, such as the Walla Walla Sweet Onion. The rules go on to say that it must be a hot variety, small, brown in color, like the Spanish onion, which is what Blumer failed to eat.
As the crowd counted past 48 seconds and well into the 50s, a very repugnant faced Blumer threw down the inferior Spanish onion, which was at best three-quarters eaten.
"I have never in my whole life eaten an entire whole (raw) onion," Blumer had said, shortly before taking on the feat.
Well over 48 seconds later, he still hadn't.
Of course, he wasn't eating a Walla Walla Sweet Onion.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.